Watercolor Flower Illustration

Watercolor flowers

In this lesson plan, we create a watercolor illustration of colorful flowers using Faber Castell's 24 tube Watercolor paint set. This beautiful paint set also includes a paint mixing tray and a medium size soft round brush.

Other art materials used:

Pitt Artist Pen - Medium Black
Grip 2001 Graphite Pencil - 2B
Kneadable Eraser
Strathmore Watercolor Pad 11x15
Paper towels


Flowers in a field

Have you ever come upon a sight like this? It is near impossible to walk past a garden this lovely and not be inspired to paint flowers! Flowers that come in all shapes, sizes and colors, from delicate pinks, magenta, vivid purples and crisp whites. Summer is here!

Pencil sketch of flowers

Composing the flowers

I begin by deciding to create this art in a comfortable, standard 11x15
size. This is just large enough to be able to create a loosely painted, yet
somewhat detailed drawing. It is also a nice framed art size.

I then spend quite a bit of time sketching all different kinds of flowers
on tracing paper; some from photos, some from my garden, some even a
little made up! Some flowers are recognizable and others not so much.
There are so many flower species out there (369,000 known to science),
that there is really no reason to think that you must be 100% accurate.
After all, this is an artistic interpretation and not a photograph.

I settle on the flowers I want to include and then sketch each one on
separate scraps of tracing paper. I then combine and overlap them all in
various ways to finally arrive at this composition. I build the arrangement
from the center out, with the larger flowers in the center, then add medium
sized ones around them, varying the shapes with an interesting stalk of
Foxglove on the right and the tall flowers and fern at the top. I then fill in
the small spaces with the smaller flowers.

Pen sketch of flowers

Drawing the black line

Here is the black line drawing that I have created with the medium Pitt Artist Pen. This pen is ideal because it is water and smudge proof which is very important for being able to go over with watercolor paint. Using a piece of 11x15 watercolor paper, I trace over my tissue composition using a light table (you can also use a bright window if you don’t have a light table.) I adjust my paper as I trace, leaving a bit more space in some areas and simplifying the arrangement by eliminating a few little things. I use a little bit of a broken line style of drawing in some areas in an effort to create a light feel to the art.

Flower sketches with watercolor tubes

Experimenting and practicing

Before I start in on the final painting, I spend some time experimenting and practicing on another piece of watercolor paper. I experiment with color, mixing colors and finding the right paint consistency (how much water to add to the paint.) I practice how I will paint, keeping the look loose and clean, light and fresh. I do not want to get heavy handed with dark muddy color or too much detail. I play around with how I might draw and paint leaves.



Here I begin with the central flowers and decide what colors will look best next to each other. I decide to make the big cosmos flower white to keep the overall look clean and light. The bee will also show up best against white. I also start drawing then painting leaves peeking through here and there. I decide to use the same color of green throughout the art to tie it all together and keep a more graphic look rather than trying to be realistic.


Keep your water clean by changing it after every few colors used. Dirty water will contaminate your colors, keeping them from looking pure and clean in the final art.


Integrate white throughout the whole piece by having bits of the white paper showing through whether its between flowers, in flowers or even just small specks “missed” by paint. This helps to keep a light, spontaneous look.

Flower drawing

In these tall flowers, I create a bit of a glow by layering colors. I first use a warm yellow ochre, and then while the paint is still wet, I drop a rust color on top. I let the 2 colors mingle and react with each other; the paint spreads on its own, with me just barely guiding it with the tip of my wet brush enough to stay inside the lines. Interesting texture develops as the paint dries.

Drawing of flowers

After painting all of the flowers, I stop and study the composition. I decide to improve it by balancing the upper right fern stems with these 2 green vines on the lower left. This also adds a nice variation of shapes and a little more needed greenery to the art as well.

Watercolor flowers

This pen and watercolor style of art is simple and very enjoyable; take your time and have fun creating your own unique piece of art, and then frame it for yourself or as a gift!

Artist Biography - Janis Doukakis


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